June 2022

Paedophile hunter caught with child images ‘a danger to the public’

A paedophile hunter from Ireland who was convicted of possessing an image of child sexual abuse is a risk to the public, a court has heard.

Tim Heron poses a “medium risk” of reoffending, a hearing was told.

Imposing a six-month jail sentence but suspending it for three years, a judge remarked on the “certain irony” in the case before him.

Heron was also ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for five years.

Given the content of pre-sentence reports, the judge also deemed it “necessary and proportionate” to hand the pervert a five-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Earlier this year, Heron, originally from Cloverhill Vale in Bangor but now living in Suffolk after fleeing there under threat, was convicted of having a category B indecent image of a child and five counts of having extreme pornography, with all the offences committed over a 14-month period.

In a planned search of Heron’s home in February 2018 in relation to the activity of paedophile hunters, officers discovered the depraved and disgusting material on a mobile phone.

Giving evidence on his own behalf, Heron claimed he had been part of a paedophile hunting group which would set up profiles on dating apps and use decoys to lure suspected perverts to stings, with the evidence gathered then sent to police.

While he accepted there were images on his phone, he denied downloading them for his own gratification.

But convicting Heron, the judge labelled his story “just unbelievable… not remotely credible”.

This is not Heron’s first brush with the courts. He has previous convictions for trying to intimidate the BBC journalist Kevin Magee.

In 2019, he was handed a restraining order and a 150-hour community service order after he and two other self-appointed paedophile hunters were involved in an incident with the highly respected journalist, who was investigating their activities. The trio were convicted of disorderly behaviour, attempted intimidation and obstructing a road.

As part of his Sexual Offences Prevention Order, Heron is prohibited from unsupervised access with children, from living anywhere without permission from his risk manager and from entering any intimate or romantic relationship without disclosing his conviction.

He is also banned from using any social media without permission and he has to register any mobile internet device.